Astana sidelines Andrey Kashechkin for failure to sign ‘internal code of conduct’

Kashechkin will remain on the squad but remain suspended until he signs Astana's internal code of conduct.

Team Astana has sidelined rider Andrey Kashechkin for refusing to sign the team’s “internal code of conduct.”

The Kazakh-backed team announced the move in a statement on its website, but did not disclose exactly what the team’s rules of conduct involved.

The 32-year-old Kashechkin was third at the 2006 Vuelta a España behind teammate Alexander Vinokourov, but tested positive for blood doping in 2007 and was handed down a two-year racing ban.

Kashechkin returned to Lampre in 2010 before switching back to Astana midway through 2011. He was rather unspectacular last season, riding to 78th in the Tour de France and 34th at the Vuelta.

Astana officials said Kashechkin was “provisionally” suspended yet will remain on the team until “his signature is received on the Pro Team Astana’s internal code of conduct.”

The move seems to signal an attempt by Astana to change its image. The squad has had a rather dubious past, with current GM Vinokourov also testing positive for blood doping in 2007.

The decision comes as Astana is taking steps to try to join the Mouvement Pour un Cyclisme Credible, created in 2007 by former Crédit Agricole team manager Roger Legeay.

The group’s mandate is to promote a cleaner image of cycling and includes such teams as Ag2r La Mondiale, Cofidis, Europcar, FDJ-BigMat, IAM Cycling, Garmin-Sharp and Lotto-Belisol.

There is no official word yet from officials at MPCC on Astana’s interest in joining their group.